I subscribe to many copywriting newsletters. Here's an article that shows how it's like on "the other side", marketers struggle, too.

How Kevin's Massive Mistake
Completely Changed His Life

Kevin H. made a huge mistake.

The biggest, he would say, if he could tell you himself.

And he knew it immediately.

It was, he said, "instant regret."

Within milliseconds, he was asking himself "What have I done..."

Kevin, see, had just jumped the rail of the single most popular suicide spot in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge.

On average, the site gets another distraught jumper every two weeks. Kevin was one of them.

It wasn't like he hadn't tried to quiet the voices in his head. Therapy, drugs, hospitalization.

Time to die, those voices still said.

And yet, in the minutes his bus dropped him off at the bridge, he hesitated and paced with tears in his eyes.

"I told myself if just one person comes up to me and asks if I'm okay... if one person asks if they can help... I won't do it. I'll stop and tell them my whole story..."

But nobody did, so he jumped.

It was in those next milliseconds, he would later say, he knew it was the biggest mistake of his life.

He didn't want to die.

But now, he was sure, it was too late.

From its highest point, it's a 245-foot plummet into the icy bay waters below.

Out of the 1,700 people that have jumped from the bridge since it first opened in 1937, only 25 have survived.

Kevin, against all odds, would be one of them.

He slammed into the water like hitting concrete. Three of his vertebrae instantly shattered.

When he surfaced, he couldn't hold his own head above water. But, incredibly, a sea lion kept pushing him up.

The Coast Guard soon arrived and pulled him out.

From there, he began a long recovery that required intense surgery, physical therapy, and psychiatric care.

While still under treatment, a priest urged him to give a talk to a bunch of seventh and eighth graders.

Afterward, they sent him a pile of letters, both encouraging and full of their own pained thoughts.

He also met a woman.

Today, Kevin lives in Atlanta and he's been happily married for the last 12 years.

And he tours the country, sharing his story.

So why re-tell it here?

Obviously -- I hope -- you don't get lots of copywriters looking to snuff it after a flopped headline test.

Just the same...

We've talked a lot in this space about the things one needs to get by in this biz.

My friend and colleague Joe, over at the publishing powerhouse Agora Financial, likes to list requirements.

You need intense curiosity...

You need a killer work ethic...

And you must, MUST have... resilience.

Meaning, you must have or find the capacity to bounce back from failure and flops, even huge ones.

Now, again, Kevin's story is an extreme and in this context -- I hope -- a hyperbolic example of somebody giving up. In the worst way possible.

It is also, though, a metaphor.

See, I get a lot of notes from some of you guys... and at conferences, I get to talk to a lot of people...

And I often get the sense, from some folks, that they're feeling a little more overwhelmed than they let on.

Some are just starting out, and they've got a lot on the line. For some, it's everything. And some are desperate to make it work.

Because they have to, because their pride or livelihoods or a family business is at stake, because it's a dream.

And yet, they're overwhelmed by all the tips and secrets... or by piles of confusing research or ideas...

For others, even had some success, but they're burned out, feel antiquated, or feel like "imposters" that know less than they let on, in an industry that's evolving.

To all those folks... and to you... I can only say, I've been there. And frankly, go back there now and again.

Flops happen, failures happen. And you can and will -- even years and decades into doing this -- make the wrong choices, pick the wrong projects, or botch the right ones.

The legendary Gene Schwartz put it this way, according to a quote spotted recently in fellow writer Ben Settle's e-letter...

" A very good copywriter is going to fail. If the guy doesn't fail, he's no good. He's got to fail. It hurts. But it's the only way to get the home runs the next time."

Once more, nobody -- I hope -- is taking the trials of this profession hard enough to make Kevin's choice.

And believe me, I don't mean to make light of the latter. I just want to make sure we hit this anvil with a big hammer. To drive home the point that, whatever your struggle, be it with this biz or something bigger, that you don't want to give up. Press on.

As Churchill put it, "Success, is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm."

Or even more succinctly when he said, "If you're going through hell, keep going."

Because it's worth it.
John Forde

Add Comment